People Serving People: Helping Families Find Their Way Home

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
People Serving People Charities Inc
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

People Serving People’s Mission: To serve homeless children and their families and provide new opportunities for healthy, stable family life.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

At People Serving People (PSP), we provide computer access and more to homeless families, thanks to a 2005 Microsoft Unlimited Potential award of $50,000 for our Technology Center, and the endless number of Microsoft applications our staff uses everyday. “PSP’s Tech Center is important to me. As a (PSP) resident, I found it a vital part of my day to be able to go into the Tech Center and search for housing or for a job. More than just that, it was vital for contact with relatives and friends who were worried about us, and with members of my church, since I was not able to get there on Sundays. Many residents do not have cell phones, so accessing and sending emails is important, to keep in touch with loved ones. No one asks to be homeless, or to lose almost everything they have, which is what happens to most of us when we become homeless; having the computers available is a way to keep from losing hope, dignity, and a glimmer of reality.” writes Jessie Lefler, who has returned to PSP as a volunteer Computer Mentor in the Technology Center, helping our current residents find their way home. She knows they can make it with the resources at PSP, just as she and her family did. The largest and most comprehensive family-focused shelter in the upper Midwest, People Serving People (PSP) provides for the immediate needs of families in crisis and offers services promoting long-term stability and support in a ten story building located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. On an average night more than 300 guests, two-thirds of them under age 18, share our 99 rooms. Two double beds, with roll away cribs or additional beds if needed, storage for clothes and belongings, a nightstand, a chair or two and a bathroom with shower make up the temporary living space where these families take a deep breath, lock a door behind them, and find the moment of peace to figure out their next move. Some families come with nothing but a garbage bag full of clothes. During the average 47 day stay at PSP, these families must find jobs and homes in a market that is dauntingly competitive, especially for disadvantaged parents with young children. PSP’s wide range of Children’s and Community Integrated Services are completely funded by donations from corporations, foundations, and individuals. We hope that Microsoft will again recognize the life changing impact PSP’s programs have on our many guests, 2,410 last year alone, and help PSP optimize the delivery of our mission “to serve homeless children and their families and provide new opportunities for healthy, stable family life.” Rochelle White resided at PSP at the end of October 2008, and reflects on her time in the Technology Center, “Even though I am computer literate the Tech Center had so much more to offer. I could learn PowerPoint, Excel, Word, Outlook, Access and Publisher at the basic, intermediate, and at advanced levels. The exciting thing about it was that it was free and I could learn as much as I wanted. I could be on the computer as long as I needed. The Tech Center had a map so during job searches I could see where I could or couldn’t reach by public transportation. Though I was resourceful with finding my own jobs, there is a spot where new and updated job listings sat for every resident to use. Now that I’ve found a job I’m going to use the computers for housing searches. I’m grateful and appreciative of the Tech Center.” Orientations to the computer lab are given every weekday, with the PSP Technology Associate guiding PSP guests through computer basics to a website specifically designed for them, with direct links to housing, employment and school applications, educational resources, tutorials for GED preparation, typing and Microsoft Office products, legal resources, and the processes to run their own searches, build resumes, and much more. In 2008 PSP recorded 5,514 visits to the center, and 488 Orientations, indicating at least 50% of the adults residing at PSP attended the training and utilized the center as many as 11 times or more. The impact this access provides extends past PSP’s guests to our volunteers, and in the words of 2008 Computer Mentor Jose Perez, to the world beyond,” This was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had working with people or with any community service activity. At the beginning I thought that supervising a computer lab was not the best community service experience I could have. I was wrong: PSP is an outstanding organization, committed to helping people and motivating me to keep working to do the same in my country. The things I liked most were that PSP helps these families to be more productive, being part of the team helping people find jobs and housing in the computer lab, and seeing the faces of people eager to find jobs and develop their computer skills. I really like the way the PSP staff works; there is no difference between one individual and another. My supervisor Dee Ann (PSP’s Technology Associate) is a great person, very proactive and enthusiastic. She was a motivation fountain for me. When I get back to my country I would (like to) work for one of these organizations and provide them all the experience I have gained. I’m proud to say that I worked at PSP, that working here helped me find out there are people that need our help, and that the simple time that we can give them is priceless.” The staff at PSP could not achieve our level of service without Microsoft technologies, from the tracking of results and demographics in Excel spreadsheets, to the connectivity provided by schedules coordinated and emails organized by Outlook and Exchange, we are indebted to products Microsoft provides. PSP grew up with the information technology industry, from the original PSP operation in 1982 serving chemically dependent men, to PSP’s response to the growing need and number of homeless families leading to a capital campaign in the late 1990s that provided for the renovation and move to the current facility in 2002. Every step of the way Microsoft products enable the improvement of PSP families’ lives, from the design of flyers to notify them of services with Publisher and Word, to Power Point Orientation materials for guests and volunteers, to the indispensible 2005 Microsoft Unlimited Potential award for our Technology Center and the software that enables our fundraising efforts. This year PSP is installing a CRM database to coordinate and share all our departmental data, connecting the demographics, usage statistics, outcomes, and fundraising information in a seamless service to optimize mission delivery. Microsoft technologies make our work possible, directly impacting the lives of families in poverty, enabling support systems to empower individuals and bring equity to their lives. We look to Microsoft as a partner as we move forward with CRM to streamline and enhance the services People Serving People provides. Thank you!

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery